04/15/09 10:50 PM ET
Host of Yanks favorites to open new park
Berra's first pitch complements visits from Gossage, others
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Hall of Famer Yogi Berra will throw the first ceremonial first pitch at the new building, headlining a list of more than 40 distinguished Yankees alumni, including Whitey Ford, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams, to be introduced on the field, followed by baseline introductions for both teams.
"I think it means a lot to everyone who's been a part of it, guys who have been a part of the old Stadium and getting the opportunity to go into the new Stadium," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "You realize it is special. I'm sure it will set in a bit more and we'll get a chance to reflect on it a bit more when we're finished playing, but it's pretty special to be part of this organization."
The Yankees are set to meet the Indians for a 1:05 p.m. ET start time, with ace left-hander CC Sabathia scheduled to meet left-hander Cliff Lee in a matchup of the past two American League Cy Young Award winners.
Gates will open to fans with valid tickets beginning at 10 a.m., and the Yankees are asking fans to be situated in their seats by noon in advance of pregame ceremonies, as well as to budget ample time when planning the trip, including use of public transportation.
Ceremonies will begin at 12:10 p.m., with the West Point Marching Band performing John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post March" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" in a tribute to the original Yankee Stadium's opener on April 18, 1923, when Sousa performed on the field with the Seventh Regiment Band prior to the game. The West Point Band will also play the "Armed Forces Medley."
Colors will be presented by a joint FDNY and NYPD color guard. After a 75-foot-by-150-foot American flag is unfurled in the outfield by West Point cadets, Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the first season of "American Idol" and two Grammy Awards, will sing the national anthem.
At the conclusion of the national anthem, the 174th Fighter Wing -- an Air Force unit based in Syracuse, N.Y. -- will fly over the Stadium in F-16C Flying Falcons. The unit executing the flyover returned to the United States last August after supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq.
The home plate and pitching rubber to be used in Thursday's game is the same set that was used in the final game at the original Yankee Stadium.
It was brought to the current Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008, in a ceremony that included Yankees executives, former players, and two local Bronx high school youth groups: Youth Force 2020, led by Turner Construction, and the ACE Mentoring Program, led by Tishman Speyer.
Following the game, the items will be dug up and placed in the Yankees Museum, located in Yankee Stadium near Gate 6. All fans in attendance will receive an inaugural season commemorative pin.
The opening festivities may have much the same feel as the annual Old-Timers Days' and the final game at the old Yankee Stadium, when dozens of famed pinstripers from across the eras joined on the field in uniform.
Fans will also want to arrive early to catch their first glimpses of the countless fan-friendly elements, including massive video boards that provide more information than before and concessions areas that have been placed on wide-open concourses to allow for continuous viewing of the game.
The full list of former players attending Thursday's ceremonies, as provided by the Yankees, is as follows:
Luis Arroyo, Jesse Barfield, Berra, Ron Blomberg, Bobby Brown, Horace Clarke, Jerry Coleman, David Cone, Chili Davis, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Dave Eiland, Ed Figueroa, John Flaherty, Ford, Joe Girardi, Gossage, Ken Griffey, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Jackson, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Don Larsen, Hector Lopez, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Paul O'Neill, Joe Pepitone, Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Buck Showalter, Bill "Moose" Skowron, Luis Sojo, Mel Stottlemyre, Ralph Terry, Bob Turley, David Wells, Roy White, Williams and Dave Winfield.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.